Gianna Marlow ’24 Applies Psychology Lessons to Law Enforcement Internship

What kinds of internships can you do as a psychology major? There are probably more answers than you think. Our students have been able to intern in all kinds of settings, and a great example from this summer is Gianna Marlow ’24. A Psychology major at JWU’s Charlotte Campus, she was able to complete a felony probation internship at The Georgia Department of Community Supervision, which is a department of law enforcement that supervises those who have committed felony crimes and are now on parole and/or probation. She answered a few questions about her experience and how it has helped with her studies.

Student Gianna Marlow smilingGIANNA MARLOW '24

Tell me more about your internship at Georgia DCS!

This internship allowed me to assist with the supervision of parolees and probationers who have been assigned to the circuit that we work in. I was involved in uploading sentences from the court and shadowing officers in the office and out in the field when they were going to their supervisees' homes. Within the office, I assisted the officers with documents that the supervisors brought in or needed to fill out, and then I uploaded them into the portal. I also put in case notes for the majority of interactions with the supervisees as well. 

Can you describe a typical day?

Every day was different. Some days, I worked up at the front desk with the duty officer handling supervisee questions and intake for those who had just been sentenced and then released from jail or those who, per their sentencing, had to serve time in prison and are now out on parole or probation. Intake is the process of explaining to the supervisee their sentence and what special conditions they must follow while on probation within Cherokee County, Georgia. DNA gets taken, they get their contact information to call in monthly, and they are assigned to their officer. When out in the field, I was with an armed officer (all the officers are armed in the field office as well) and I rode along with them for the home checks of supervisees. 

How did all this work relate to your major and what you’re studying at JWU?

As a Psychology major, this is related to what I am studying in a bunch of different areas. Georgia DCS focuses on making sure these individuals don't re-offend, which involves a lot of rapport, and building rapport is also extremely important within psychology. You want your clients to know they can trust you, work with you, and most importantly be honest with you. This was the same working relationship when it came to the officers and their supervisees. 

My Professional Issues and Ethics course I took last fall and my Counseling Theories course I took this past spring both have helped with how to build rapport, how to effectively talk to the supervisees, and being able to gauge how truthful they might be. Those courses also have helped me with a lot of the psychology courses I have taken to be able to talk to someone who might have a mental disorder. During the internship, I carried around my Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders with me everywhere I went in case an officer might need some help and also just for my own personal reasons. 

Did this internship experience help you decide on your future career path?

Yes and no. I funnily enough want to become a school psychologist and I am planning on going to graduate school for that. But, this internship changed my perspective on law enforcement and how difficult the jobs within this field are. This internship experience will help me become a school psychologist because I now have this knowledge of being able to see where a child is mentally and being able to help them go down the correct path. 

Gianna Marlow and a friend sitting at a table reading books

Let’s back up a bit — why did you choose to attend JWU?

JWU was a school I originally applied to back in 2019. I got accepted but chose to attend another school. After I completed my culinary degree at The Culinary Institute of America, I took a gap year and during this time, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. Then, one day, I had a sort of an “ah-ha" moment and psychology came to mind. I have been in love with learning it ever since.

So, to bring myself back around to the question: I chose JWU because of its close proximity to home (Georgia) as well as the Psychology program. JWU's Psychology program is extensive and brings a lot of growth to someone starting in the psychology field. The hands-on aspect is what I feel makes this program thrive, as well as the small classes because you are able to get to know your classmates very well and build a community that supports everyone.  

Do you have any favorite professors in the program?

Some of my favorite professors at JWU have been Dr. Howard Slutsky and Dr. Alexandra Dean. Both are such amazing professors and have pushed me to be the best I can be, even in tough situations. They have given me the avenues to want to continue studying in the psychology field.

What have been some of your favorite classes you’ve taken so far, and why?

I feel as of right now my favorite courses have been Neuropsychology and I am currently in Developmental Psychology. These two courses have been extremely informative and interesting for me because of what I want to do in the field. I want to become a school psychologist, so these two courses play a large role in that profession.

Learning about psychology and the different areas of it brings me a lot of joy. When you find a passion for something you want to continue to learn about it. I feel I am able to do that here at JWU and to grow as someone who wants to help others and have a safe community here to do so!